A 19-year-old who tried running for a public office in New Hampshire discovered the importance of understanding Internet safety rules the hard way. According to Seacoast Online, his competitors managed to find sexually suggestive images in his social media as well as those that referenced past drug use. This, of course, led to his political career crash at its very beginning. Unfortunately, that’s just one of many examples of how careless Internet habits can expose us to scams, identity theft, etc. With the growth of the number of Internet users, the risks are only increasing.
Despite the fact that the digital sphere changes rapidly, the basic Internet safety rules haven’t changed significantly. Hackers still try to find ways to use your personal information to access your credit card and steal some money.
Unsafe Internet surfing can lead to other threats as well. Things like embarrassing comments or images, for example, are nearly impossible to delete completely.
Here you’ll find Top 10 Internet safety rules to avoid getting into trouble online.
1. Don’t overshare personal information
Possible employers and customers don’t have to know your relationship status or what you ate for breakfast. What they do need to know is your professional background and skills, as well as how they can get in touch with you. You wouldn’t share purely personal information with random people individually, so don’t give it to millions of strangers online.
2. Embrace Privacy Settings
Marketers want to know everything about you, just like hackers. They can learn more than you’d think based on browsing and social media. But you can prevent it. The settings of both web browsers and mobile operating systems can protect your privacy. Larger websites (such as Facebook) have privacy-enhancing settings, too. Those settings might be hard to find (which is not a coincidence) as lots of companies want your personal information because of its marketing value. Make sure to find and enable these privacy safeguards.
3. Get used to safe browsing
Unsafe browsing is somewhat similar to walking in dangerous neighborhoods but online. Cybercriminals use scandalous content as bait because they know that people are tempted by such questionable content and may risk their safety while searching for it. This side of the Internet is filled with unnoticeable pitfalls, where a simple click could reveal personal data or infect your gadget with viruses. The best way to avoid this is not to visit such sites altogether.
4. Use a Secure VPN Connection
When you use the Internet in a public place, like through public Wi-Fi, you don’t really have any direct control over security. Some cybersecurity experts are worried about endpoints (it’s where a private network is connected to the external world). The vulnerable endpoint for you is the local Internet connection. If you have doubts about the security of the connection, don’t provide such sensitive information as your bank account number.
To enhance your Internet browsing protection, use a secure VPN connection (VPN stands for Virtual Private Network). It makes sure you have a secure connection with an Internet server and no one can see what you’re doing or get access to your data.
5. Think twice before downloading anything
The biggest goal for cybercriminals is to deceive you so that you downloaded programs or apps carrying malware that try to steal your information. The malware can pretend to be an app: something like a popular game or an app which checks traffic. Never download apps that look questionable or come from a strange site.
6. Use strong passwords
Passwords are probably one of the weakest spots when it comes to the Internet security structure, but right now there’s no way to avoid them. The problem with them is that most people prefer to create ones that are easy to remember, which, you guessed it, are easy to guess, too. Choose strong passwords that are unique and complicated: at least fifteen characters long, with letters, numbers, and symbols. Password manager software is there to help you out with this. They can manage many passwords for you not to forget them.
7. Be careful with online purchases
Every time you buy something online, you have to give your credit card or bank account info, the most desirable thing for cybercriminals. Only give this information to the sites that ensure secure, encrypted connections. You can recognize such sites by looking at their address; it should start with https: where S stands for “secure” instead of just http: There might also be a padlock icon near the address bar, which means that it’s safe, too.